Florida car accident victims have the right to hold negligent parties responsible for medical expenses, lost wages, and more. But what if you weren’t in perfect health when the accident happened? You’re not alone.
The question of “can I be compensated for pre-existing conditions after a car accident” is extremely common. The Fort Walton Beach car accident lawyers at Brannon & Brannon can help you find out. Call our law firm to schedule a free consultation to tell us what happened today.
What Qualifies as a Pre-Existing Condition?
A pre-existing condition is an injury or medical condition that existed prior to the crash. In the insurance context, pre-existing conditions are important when the car accident impacts the same area of the body.
Common examples of pre-existing conditions that can be aggravated in a car wreck include:
- Back injuries
- Heart conditions
- Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
- Herniated discs
- Brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Broken bones
Emotional conditions, such as anxiety and depression, also qualify as pre-existing conditions. If your PTSD or anxiety is worsened because of the crash, you could be entitled to compensation for counseling, medications, and more.
Understanding The Florida Eggshell Skull Doctrine
The basic idea behind the eggshell skull doctrine is that you shouldn’t be penalized for your health conditions if someone else causes an accident. At-fault parties take their victims “as they are.” That means they’re responsible for the damage they cause even if it’s unexpected.
The eggshell doctrine also lets you recover compensation if you’re unusually susceptible to injury.
The insurance company can’t deny your right to compensation as long as the following are true:
- Your pre-existing condition was stable at the time of the accident
- The pre-existing condition was only made worse because of the car accident
The insurance company will quickly shift the burden of proving these elements onto you. That makes it even more critical that you seek medical attention immediately after the accident. When time passes between the accident and your medical care, the insurance company gains an advantage. They’ll use that window to claim something else made your condition worse.
Remember, the no-fault insurance law in Florida only gives you 14 days to see a doctor. Our personal injury lawyers in Fort Walton Beach would recommend seeking medical care much sooner if possible.
Should I Tell the Insurance Company About My Pre-Existing Condition?
Expect the insurance company to make a big deal about any pre-existing condition. If the insurance adjusters are doing their job, they’ll ask about any health conditions you had prior to the accident.
Don’t be tricked into thinking they care about your health. They’re looking for a way to pay you less after the car crash.
You should be on the lookout if the insurance adjuster tries any of the following tricks:
- Promising to be fair
- Suggesting you don’t need a personal injury attorney
- Offering a settlement quickly after your auto accident
- Asking you to provide a recorded or written statement without an attorney’s help
You shouldn’t lie about your medical history. You also don’t have to disclose every detail in your medical records. Whenever questions about pre-existing conditions come up, you should stop and speak with an experienced personal injury attorney. We can help you properly disclose your health condition without giving away too many details.
Remember, the insurance company is out to make a profit. They aren’t on your side. It’s always a smart idea to hire an attorney who will look out for your best interests.
At Brannon & Brannon, we’d be happy to set up a free case evaluation so that you can learn more about what comes next.
Damages That Might Be Available Even if You Have a Pre-Existing Condition
Even if you have a pre-existing condition, you may be entitled to the same forms of compensation available in any other personal injury case. That’s true even if the condition has been stable for years. The key is proving that the accident made your health condition worse.
“Eggshell plaintiffs” are entitled to compensation for their unique post-accident needs. If your pre-existing condition is aggravated in an accident, you may be entitled to receive money for your:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Future medical bills
- Lost future earning capacity
- Physical therapy
- Long-term care
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- PTSD and anxiety
- Property damage
- Diminished quality of life
- Damages for wrongful death
You’re entitled to receive compensation for your aggravated pre-existing injuries. You’re entitled to compensation for both current and future expenses. However, expect the insurance company to argue that you would have required future medical care even if the accident never happened.
Our lawyers at Brannon & Brannon will hire respected medical experts to prove otherwise. We’ll work with your doctors to get the proof you need to back up your injury claim. We’re ready to get started when you are, so call our Northwest Florida law firm at your convenience.
When Should I Speak With A Car Accident Lawyer?
It’s important to speak with us before you accept any type of settlement award. Be skeptical if you see a settlement offer quickly–it’s a common insurance tactic.
Insurance companies rely on two factors to get you to accept a lowball settlement:
- They’re betting you have only limited legal knowledge
- They’re counting on the fact that you probably need money right away
Getting legal advice quickly can make all the difference in these situations. The insurance companies hire skilled negotiators to trick you into accepting a low offer. That puts you at a disadvantage from the start.
Accepting a settlement offer means agreeing that it reflects the fair value of your injury claim. You can’t go back and negotiate for a better deal if your future expenses are much higher than you expected. An experienced trial lawyer can help prevent this situation.
When you hire Brannon & Brannon, our law firm will handle all communications with the insurance company. Once they see you have an award-winning attorney on your side, the insurance adjusters are much more likely to play fair.
Don’t Wait to File a Claim if You Have a Pre-Existing Condition
Typically, there’s a two-year statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits in the state of Florida. However, car insurance companies often impose much shorter deadlines–you might only have weeks or months to start your claim.
If you suffer from a pre-existing condition, it’s important to get started on your claim right away.
It’ll always take more time to gather evidence, including medical testimony, to support your claim.
You don’t have to wait until your condition is stable to get legal help. It’s really never too early to get started. Our car crash lawyers are happy to set up a remote consultation to discuss your accident and injuries. Just give our law offices in Fort Walton Beach or Destin a call and we’ll arrange something that works for you.
Brannon & Brannon Will Fight to Help You Recover Compensation For Pre-Existing Conditions After a Car Accident
The good news is that most car accident victims are entitled to recover compensation after a car accident even if they have a pre-existing condition. The bad news? The insurance company will fight you every step of the way.
Claiming that an accident victim shouldn’t be compensated because of a pre-existing condition is a common insurance tactic. They’ll start digging into your medical history to convince you to accept a lower settlement.
That doesn’t mean you aren’t entitled to compensation. If you had an existing medical condition that was made worse in a car accident, you should be compensated for that worsened condition.
That doesn’t mean it’ll be easy. An experienced Fort Walton Beach personal injury lawyer can help you get the full amount you deserve.
Our lawyers will:
- Work with experts who can help separate the old injuries from the newly worsened condition
- Defend you when the insurance company tries to deny or diminish your compensation
- Handle all insurance communications
- Negotiate with the insurance company to maximize your damages award
- Prepare your case for trial before a judge and jury if necessary
If you have a pre-existing condition, you’re at great risk of ending up with less compensation than you deserve. Insurance companies know what they’re doing. They’ll manipulate the facts and the law to get you to accept the lowest possible offer.
We know – because founding attorney Dennis Brannon specialized in an insurance defense early on in his legal career. He knows how insurance companies operate and the firm draws on that knowledge and experience every day to the benefit of clients like you.
Our Destin car accident lawyers are here to shift the scales in your favor. With over 60 years of combined experience, we have what it takes to get the financial results you need.
Contact our law firm, with offices conveniently located in Fort Walton Beach and Destin, to get started with a free case evaluation today.